Ramsey dancer is finalist in national magazine contest

A Ramsey dancer could soon be gracing the cover of a national magazine.

Dancer Alyssa Ness of Ramsey has been named one of three finalist in the Dance Spirit Cover Model Search. Photo courtesy of Agape Moments
Dancer Alyssa Ness of Ramsey has been named one of three finalist in the Dance Spirit Cover Model Search. Photo courtesy of Agape Moments

Alyssa Ness, who will be a senior this year at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, is one of three finalist in the Dance Spirit Magazine Cover Model Search competition.

The winner, who is chosen by viewer votes, will be the cover girl for the October issue.

“I cried,” said Ness about receiving the February e-mail that said she was a finalist.

But she couldn’t tell anyone, because it was supposed to be kept a secret, she said.

“We waited until it went viral,” said mom Heather Ness.

Once the magazine announced the finalists and it was up on Facebook, then the news was shared with family, friends and Alyssa’s classmates.

Since June 1, 2011, Dance Spirit as been receiving monthly video submissions through DanceMedia.com.

Approximately six to 20 videos were received a month, Heather said.

Each month two video winners are selected, a Viewers’ Choice and an Editor’s Choice.

Alyssa won the September 2011’s Editor’s Choice.

“I was shocked (and) really happy,” Alyssa said.

Heather spotted the winning video on the website while the pair were in Las Vegas, Nev., for a dance competition.

Although the dancer friend that told Alyssa about the contest was there, Alyssa kept the news quiet.

The friend was in the contest the year before and Alyssa said she kind of felt like she would be stepping on the other dancer’s toes by sharing the news.

“It was awkward,” because the pair have a competitive friendship, Alyssa said.

The contest semifinalists were chosen from the 48 video winners.

In January, Alyssa was notified she made it to the semifinals.

The magazine editor selected three finalist in February.

Off to New York

In April, Alyssa joined the other two finalists, Megan Skalla of Draper, Utah, and Hannah Bettes, who trains in Tampa, Fla., in New York City.

From April 16-18, the trio took classes at Broadway Dance Center, posed for a Dance Spirit photographer, caught a Broadway show and performed their solos for the judges.

The dance classes at the Broadway Dance Center included musical theater, hip-hop and ballet, Alyssa said.

While girls learned the steps, their instructors critiqued them for the contest.

Broadway Dance Center musical theater instructor James Kinney said of Alyssa on the Dance Spirit website, “She attacks choreography from such a pure place in her body and understands it immediately. Alyssa is ferocious in her movement.”

During the trip, Alyssa also got to know the other dancers, with whom she shared a room.

She had already met Skalla at dance competitions, Alyssa said.

But she was thrilled to met Bettes.

“I watch her videos all the time,” Alyssa said.


When Alyssa was 14, her dancing nearly came to an end.

While studying at the American School of Ballet, Alyssa, who was on full scholarship, sprained an ankle but continued to dance.

It was an intensive training schedule with a lot of repetitive movements, said Heather.

Although they tried physical therapy, Alyssa’s ankle did not get any better and she ended up having surgery.

The surgeon thought she had torn just one ligament, but during surgery discovered a second ligament was also torn, Alyssa said.

It could have been the end of her dancing career.

Alyssa has been dancing since she was two and there was no way they could have just told her that she can’t dance, Heather said.

The family sought out a physical therapist who specialized in dance injuries and understood the need to dance.

While Alyssa has not allowed her injury to stop her, it has limited what types of dance styles she can perform.

She will never have the graceful half-moon arched foot of a ballet dancer because the ligament repair shortened the ligament, Heather said.

It has also changed how Alyssa views dancing.

When the doctor told Alyssa she couldn’t dance, “I realized how much I loved to dance,” she said.

“Before my injury, I was caught up with winning titles and being the best, but now I dance because I truly love it,” Alyssa said in her Dance Spirit interview.

Before the injury, Alyssa was technically perfect dancer who was beautiful to watch, but she was missing the emotional connection, Heather said.

Now that she can dance again, Alyssa puts her heart into it, she said.

“Being way from (dancing) has made me appreciate it so much more,” Alyssa said.

“I love the feeling of performing, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the performance and being able to inspire other people.”

As a student at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Alyssa has been exploring different types of dance styles.

“I love modern dance,” she said.

Before taking the class, “I though it was really weird and wasn’t even sure if they could call it dancing,” Alyssa said.

While she still loves ballet, Alyssa said she now appreciates other dance forms.

After graduation, Alyssa said she would like to be part of a contemporary dance company, such as Travis Walls’ Shaping Sounds in Los Angeles.

Alyssa currently trains with the Northland School of Dance in Champlin.

To see Alyssa perform or to vote for her, got to the her Dance Spirit web page at http://www.dancespirit.com/2012-cover-model-search-alyssa-ness/.

Votes will be taken until July 31.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]